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Every year, millions of Americans experience diagnosable symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol abuse. A person with alcohol addiction undergoes several severe changes in physical well-being. Some of these changes are long-term (over months or years) and some appear for a short span of time. These effects include severe health problems and death. This is the reason why an addict must visit an alcohol rehabilitation center for treatment.
In this article, you will learn about the short-term and long-term physical effects of alcohol abuse.
Physical effects of alcohol
Alcohol contains ethyl alcohol which is poisonous to the body. The digestive system cannot break down this substance. This poisonous substance enters the bloodstream directly. Alcohol abuse can cause damage to the following three body parts:
The liver breaks down and eliminates alcohol and its byproducts from the bloodstream. However, the liver can process only a specific amount of alcohol.
High level of alcohol disrupts the electrical signaling system responsible for the proper functioning of the heart. This can reduce the flow of blood. When insufficient nutrients or oxygen is supplied to a body part, that part cannot sustain damage.
Alcohol can slow down the rate of activity between the nerve cells. These nerve cells provide pathways for outgoing and ingoing communications. The brain cannot send an adequate number of signals to other vital organs such as lungs and heart. This is called alcohol poisoning.
When heavy drinking becomes a pattern, alcohol-related changes in the brain lead to the development of alcoholism. The brain becomes accustomed to the chemicals contained in alcohol. When the levels of these chemicals fall too low, this produces a strong, negative reaction.
Short-term Physical Effects Of Alcohol Abuse
Heavy alcohol consumption causes short-term intoxication. Some people practice binge drinking to reach this state quickly. Binge drinking produces drunkenness in less than two hours. A person practicing binge drinking may not have alcoholism. However, binge drinking can lead to:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Accidental injury or death
Alcohol dependence can cause dehydration, develop acute kidney injury (AKI) or electrolyte imbalances. This leads to kidney-related problems which can be minor to life-threatening. Repeated binge drinking can lead to alcoholism.
Long-Term Physical effects of alcohol abuse
The physical effects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse become worse over time. These physical effects can cause alcohol-related liver diseases. Steatosis or fatty liver is one of the alcohol-related liver diseases. Heavy drinking triggers an abnormal buildup of fat inside the liver cells.
Alcoholic hepatitis is another alcohol-related liver disease. This is a destructive inflammation that can harm or even kill liver cells. Cirrhosis is the third alcohol-related liver disease in which healthy and functional liver tissues are replaced with useless scar tissue.
Signs of fatty livers
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tender or painful abdomen
- High body temperature
Signs of Cirrhosis
- Ascites (unusual abdominal fluid accumulation)
- Spleen enlargement
- Portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the liver)
- Esophageal varices
Signs of kidney failure
- Sleep regulation problems
- Body temperature regulation problems
- Muscle function control problems
- Mood fluctuation problems
- Learning or other higher mental functioning problems
If you are struggling with the problem of alcoholism, visit the best alcohol rehabilitation center for help.